Joseph R. Stanaitis
i may have told you guys that i was writing to father Ronnie Ciaravolo. he was a seminarian at the house from 1949 thru 1958. He is retired now and living out in Montauk, Long Island. I just received a long letter from him today. he has lived a remarkable life and these past few years have been filled with a great deal of pain but as he said, he is an honorary houses kid and handles it with prayer and faith. I am going to transcribe his handwritten letter and with his permission, you can print it at our website. I will also send a copy to Art and Gloria. if any of you would like to write him and send him photos and other memories, let me know. it is enough to say that even tho he is has lost sight in one eye plus hurting from many other ailments, he still teaches, preaches and says mass. if you remember him from those days, like me, i would love to hear one of his sermons (yeah, today they call them homilies) in his letter, he mentions that he still wears the leather pen and pencil case made for him by Sister James Frances over 50 years ago..
From: Joseph R. Stanaitis
I JUST SPOKE TO FATHER RONNIE. HE SAID IT IS OKAY TO PUT THIS ON OUR WEBSITE. AS YOU READ THE LETTER, YOU CAN SEE THAT HE'S HAD IT ROUGH TO SAY THE LEAST. HE WOULD APPRECIATE LETTERS AND PHOTOS. MAKE SURE THE PICTURES ARE LABELED. MAYBE SOME BODY OUT THERE MIGHT HAVE A PICTURE OF HIM AND FORWARD IT TO ME. THE NUMBERS IN ( ) ARE THE PAGE NUMBERS ON HIS LETTER. HE WRITES VERY GOOD AND LARGE.
from Father Ron Ciaravolo]
October 23, 2005
First of all, when you write to me, you must put in my P.O. box number because the mail is not delivered, but I must get it in the Post Office; my number is P.O. #898.
Thanks for someone who knows me in our Post Office, he gave me your letter, or else I would not have received it.
Secondly, I did not write for any offense; no way! (I interject here, my first letter to him, I included a description of his behavior in those earlier days from Bernie Neville and I did not receive a timely response. I thought I might have offended him.) The reason I did not write is because of my eyesight. I have had 19 major surgeries, everything from 65% of my stomach removed and a metal aortic valve implanted, to two brain operations. The last tumors removed from my head caused me to lose my sight. I am completely blind in my left eye, and can see very little out of my right eye. I am legally blind and cannot drive anymore and it is not easy for me to read and to write. Despite two hearing aids, and taking tons of pills and eye drops daily, I’m doing O.K.!!
I say Mass daily, preach, etc, and people tell me that you would never know my limitations. I even teach a Bible class to adults every Wednesday evening. walking with a cane, etc ----people say, “Father , you look good and sound great.” Well, thank God for that, and for everything, and for every day, the Lord gives me.
I was delighted to hear from you, and catch up on the news of the past years. I was happy that you have resumed relationship with your brother. Please send him my best regards and love. Since Joe Rosen of happy memory began it, I have been receiving the “Alumni Newsletter” and enjoying it tremendously. As a matter of fact, they still send it to my old P.O. box#1014; I never informed them of my change of box address to P.O. box # 898.
There are so many faces, names, incidents and memories that come
to me, of the Sisters, Coach Faulk and the counselors, the house’s working men, and above all of the “kids” whom I consider my younger brothers. I was assigned to St. Agnes from 1949 to 1957; in 1958 I was ordained, and only went to the house that summer to say Mass and greet everyone. I’ve never gone back but in my mind, I’ve always considered myself an honorary ……”houses kids”. Of the almost 10 years I worked at the house, I knew hundreds of the “kids” and having recently received the list of the Alumni, who attended last summer’s Alumni Day, I was a bit sad that there are so few who are able to return to this annual get together. thank God and may He bless those of you, who do. Every time I read of the death of an alumnus, I pray for his soul, but not having seen them for over 60 years, I do not know them as adults, but can only remember them with their
youthful faces, and see as from “Little Side, Fatima, Ozanam, High School,” etc.
I vaguely remember Sister Marie Louise, but I certainly remember Sister James Frances. Up to about 15 years ago, I was still wearing, on my pant’s belt (before suspenders), under my cassock, a leather pen and pencil case that she made and gave me! If you write her or see her, please tell her that I think of her often, and she is always in my prayers, as are many of our Sparkill Dominicans, who are enjoying their heavenly reward. I was also happy to hear that beside you and your brother, there are some “kids” who remember me, like Bernie Neville and Ray Adames. Some years ago a few of the house’s kids visited me. On one occasion, it was Sal Patti, and on another, it was Martin Crowe. Otherwise, the Alumni newsletter is my only connection with this important and happy part of my life at St. Agnes.
I would love to continue to hear from you, & keep me in touch, and also see pictures of any of the alumni. Make sure you write their names, because obviously I would not know the “kids” in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s!!!
Dear Joe, you cannot image how happy you have made me in renewing our friendship after all these many years. Please continue to keep me informed. Remember I do not have a computer and live alone, and writing is my only way of communication. I do have a speakerphone and would love to hear your voice; my number is 1-631-668-2104. though I do not know them send my blessings to your wife and children and of course to Roger. Thanking you again, I bless you and remain as ever.
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